04 February 2012

Black History Sound Bites: Nibble 4

Emancipation: Food for Thought

The Emancipation Proclamation (historylink.org)
What was the Emancipation Proclamation? What exactly did it achieve? Was the purpose an acknowledgement of the rights of enslaved blacks in America? Were slaves the "focus" in Lincoln's proclamation, or simply a means to an end, as Lincoln suggested when he called the emancipation of slaves in the rebelling states "the new means for ending the war"?

The Emancipation Proclamation has a long, complicated history rooted in the midst of a long and complicated war. It has been interpreted and reinterpreted, both favorably and unfavorably, looked at as a pillar of civil rights, and examined as a deceptively convoluted civil strategy. Paired with these shifting views of arguably one of the most important documents in American history are the equally flip-flopping views of the man who penned the document. Lincoln the liberator. Lincoln the strategist. Lincoln, who has historically been declared both a man deeply concerned with liberty for all men and a man marked by many of the same racist, or at least prejudiced, ideas and views common of his time. In the end, how are we to view this statement of emancipation?

In 2009, National Geographic addressed some of these questions in a segment of Lincoln: American Mastermind titled "The Emancipation Strategy":

The full text of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation can be viewed and read via the U.S. National Archives, courtesy of the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration: "Featured Document: The Emancipation Proclamation"

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